Stem cell therapy is considered one of the great breakthroughs in medical science of the past century.
The discovery of cells that can replace damaged tissue unable to heal on its own is revolutionary in the field of orthopedics, where so many patients are struggling to deal with degeneration of cartilage in the joints due to osteoarthritis. Of course, this is just one of the fields in which stem cells will potentially change how our bodies heal. So, what are the risks of stem cell treatments?
Stem Cell Types
Just as there are different applications for stem cell therapy, there are different types of stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells are the most flexible in that they can differentiate into any other cell and replicate without limit.
Adults have stem cells, too, located throughout the body. Some can only form a few different types of cells within a single bodily system. Others, called adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are pluripotent, meaning they can differentiate into many different kinds of cells. Adult MSCs and present in high concentrations in the bone marrow and fat (adipose) tissue in the body. These are types of stem cells used in orthopedic stem cell treatments. It’s interesting to note that even the stem cells present in the umbilical cord blood of a newborn infant, although packed with stem cells, are of the adult stem cell type.
The third type of stem cell is induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS). These are adult stem cells that are manipulated to be pluripotent like embryonic stem cells are. IPS have the potential to be as therapeutically beneficial as embryonic stem cells, minus any moral issues that might arise. However, this is a developing technology. Orthopedic stem cell therapy does not use induced pluripotent stem cells.
Stem Cell Sources
Stem cells may be autologous, which means they come from the person being treated, or allogenic, which means they come from a donor. Allogenic stem cells are used sometimes for patients with blood cancer whose stem cells are not as plentiful or robust as in a healthy donor. Because the stem cells come from an outside source, the recipient must be prepared before receiving the cells to prevent rejection.=
Orthopedic Stem Cell Therapy
Adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are present in high concentrations in the bone marrow and adipose tissue of adults. These are the cells used in the orthopedic application of stem cell therapy.
Although the science is in its infancy and there is not much literature on the measurable effects of treatment, MSCs have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in patients with orthopedic injuries. There is some evidence that MSCs promote the growth of new cartilage in joints where it has worn away or torn. MSCs are removed from the bone marrow through a very safe and nearly painless procedure. Because they are autologous (come from your own body), there is no risk of rejection. This type of stem cell therapy is as safe as any injection.
If you have pain in your joints, muscles, or connective tissue, an orthopedic surgeon with experience in conservative treatments as well as advanced surgical techniques can help relieve your pain and get your body working the way it should.
Patients in the area of Clinton Township, Michigan, trust the expertise of Dr. Jeffrey Carroll and his medical team at Movement Orthopedics. Dr. Carroll provides caring and insightful diagnoses while helping patients make informed decisions about their treatment. Call (586) 436-3785 to speak with one of the friendly staff at Movement Orthopedics today.